Four Causes and Solutions to Low Back Pain

One of the most common complaints I hear about in my office is low back pain. Though a lot of my clients suffer from this, there can be a variety of causes. Today we are going to discuss a few of the causes I see most often (outside of structural differences, specific injury, and disc degeneration) and some solutions for them. **Please note that if you are not sure if you are injured it is important to see a Doctor before trying massage or a new exercise, so that the problem is not made worse**

  1. Tight quads and hip flexors.

Sitting at a desk all day is a huge contributor to low back pain. The hip flexors and quads are flexed all day, making it difficult for them to fully relax when standing. This puts a forward tilt on the pelvis. The quads and hip flexors pulling the hips forward would cause the torso to lean forward, and the righting reflex is to arch the back so the upper body is upright. Arching the spine like that puts a lot of stress on the muscles and pressure on the lower vertebrae which leads to lower back pain.

What can we do about this?

Take breaks from sitting during the day. Some of my clients attempt to drink extra water during the day which causes them to get up and use the restroom more often. Another great thing to start adding to your daily routine is stretching the quads and hip flexors at least twice a day, more if possible. The hip flexors get extremely hypertonic after years of sitting and driving, getting orthopedic massage specifically focused on the hips may be necessary to help undo the tight muscles in this area. No need to cringe at the thought of psoas/iliacus massage. At Oak City Massage, we are trained to slowly work into these muscles, in fact our goal is that you would not experience any pain during this treatment, as that will increase the effectiveness tenfold.

    2. Inefficient Glute Muscles

Another side effect of sitting all day is that your glute muscles stop working properly, they forget what to do. When this happens the next muscle in line,  the low back starts to work overtime. This obviously leads to overworked muscles in the low back, which leads to pain.

What can we do about this?

It’s not that the glutes are weakened, they have just stopped working, or gone to sleep. We simply need to wake them up. Before going walking or exercising after work, do a few squats, lunges or resistance band side steps. These exercises can activate the glutes so they actually do their job when they are supposed to. Getting a medical massage can help with this as well. Your therapist can test your glutes and see if they are truly the problem, there are techniques to activate the glutes during the massage as well.

    3. Leg Crossing

When the legs are crossed, the length of the muscles change. Sitting cross legged for long periods at a time causes one side to become chronically tight, while the other side is chronically overstretched. This type of unbalance can cause a lot of problems. When the low back is unbalanced, it can cause the hips to be cockeyed. This will change the gait pattern and cause a ripple effect all the way to the neck and down to the feet. It will also put unnecessary stress on the hip joints and knees.

What can we do about this?

First of all stop crossing your legs! Sitting with your legs straight out infront of you is ideal, you may also need a lift/stool under your feet if the chair you use is too tall to have your feet flat on the floor.  Getting a massage can be very helpful in this situation. In orthopedic massage, your therapist will do a postural analysis as well as feel which side is shorter and which side has been overstretched. This is important because it will determine the work that will be done. If the two sides have different issues, you should not treat them the same.

    4. Weak Core

The last big cause of low back pain we’ll go over today is a weak core. Almost all of my clients have heard that this can help their low back pain. The core includes your abdominals, obliques, lower back and goes as far down as the glutes  and as high up as the mid back. These muscles hold the body upright and keep you stable while moving. If any of these muscles is weak, it causes the other muscles to overwork to the point of pain.

What can we do about this?

Strengthening the abdominals is generally the first thing people try to do. This is great, but it is also important to do core exercises that include all of the muscles, planks and bridges are two great examples. I would recommend Pilates to anyone that is trying to strengthen their core to help with low back pain, whether from a youtube channel, at home DVD or a class at a gym I have found these classes to be extremely safe and core strength based. However, it is always important to discuss this with your doctor if the pain in your low back is severe. If any exercise causes an increase in pain or doesn’t feel right, stop it immediately and try a modification or skip it all together. Getting a massage will not strengthen your core, though it will help alleviate some of the soreness from the new exercises you may try. Massage can also help by loosening the muscles that have been tight and overworked.

If you are experiencing low back pain, and feel it is caused by one of these issues, call us today to schedule your appointment! New Clients receive %20 off their first hour! 919.322.8382


Convenient to Cary, Morrisville, Apex, and Raleigh for Medical massage, Sports massage, Prenatal massage, and Relaxation massage.

Oak City Massage Therapy